How many times had I seen that movie scene? Letter arrives. Guy afraid to open it. And I’m like “C’mon, suck it up buddy!”
Until yesterday when it was my turn.
I’m standing in the driveway, fixing the hand-drawn cart, when over the hill comes the big, brown UPS truck. “Not the bare root trees,” I think out loud. “We’re not ready.” But beneath that uttered fear was a silent one far greater, a fear I really didn’t even allow myself to fully indulge, so fierce was my denial.
But then the driver handed me the small package. I read the ‘from’ label. CreateSpace.
Denial evaporated. My novel, The Corridor---the adventures of a totally off-grid, razor-wire fenced world within our world---had arrived.
Though it was not the actual novel, but the five proof copies I’d ordered didn’t matter. After nine years, I was about to actually see , hold, and even smell the results of my seemingly endless mornings of writing. Not quite yet. After all, Linda was off at the dentist. I couldn’t open it without she who’d supported me, endured me, all these years. At least that was my excuse for behaving like ‘afraid-to-open-letter-man’.
As I nervously settled the unopened box onto the front porch table, I thought about how The Corridor and The Land are practically twins. We purchased The Land in April 2004 and I began The Corridor in June 2004. Perhaps it’s what happens to twins: The Land informed The Corridor and The Corridor informed The Land, so much so that sometimes they are indeed hard to tell apart. Though my bones felt the truth of this, I’d still never actually touched The Corridor. I’d never actually touched my nine year long dream.
To put that in perspective, Home the Land Built, so long in the making, arrived a year ago. The Corridor outlasted it. All I’d seen of The Corridor was digital representations. Glowing rectangles. DOCs. PSDs. PDFs. For nine years I’d violated my own Right to Look principle. And now that I finally could, what if…what if…what if…???
What exactly was I afraid of? That I wouldn’t like it? That CreateSpace, the self-publishing publisher, bungled the printing? That might have been what I was telling myself, but that wasn’t really the tugging core of my fear. My fear, perhaps like ‘afraid-to-open-letter-man’, was more fundamental.
Fear of finality. No more imagining. No more changes, except typos. This was it. I was about to awaken. The longest dream of my life was about to end. Right-to-Look man is humbled.
And so it goes with fear. Linda arrived. She lunched. We opened the box. We shouted for joy. I wept. We clinked glasses of bubbly pear juice. To feel---to touch my dream---was beautiful, more beautiful “in person” than I’d ever imagined.
And yet, after all that, am I fully awake? Is the dream over? Not nearly. Though I’ve already read the first 110 pages, it still doesn’t seem real. Long held dreams, it seems, can feel as solid as the cream pages of a novel. I wonder when it ends? Perhaps in June when The Corridor appears for sale on Amazon.